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Issues of National Reconciliation

Several issues surround the use of restorative processes after national conflicts and mass violence. These documents discuss many of those issues.

East Timor’s ‘Poet Warrior’ steps down
from the article by Elliot Brennan in The Diplomat: Gusmao joined Fretilin, the Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor, in 1975. For a week of that year the country was independent as the Portuguese exited their former colony. Days later, in a revolving door of occupation, Indonesia invaded. So began nearly a quarter of a century of violence and rebellion.... Winning the presidency in a landslide in 2002, Gusmao negotiated the country’s post-conflict factional violence and sought stability as prime minister from 2007 to 2012 under president Jose Ramos-Horta and his successor Rauk.
Kenya: Justice for the victims, and the nation
from the article by Ndung’u Gethenji in New Vision: In post-conflict countries, like Kenya in 2008, there are almost never clear winners in the showdown. Thank God for that: such victory usually follows genocide or mass murder, where one side is annihilated. Instead of such murderous clarity, millions of Kenyans must find the political accommodation that secures the sanctity, society and continuity of the nation. That approach is recognised worldwide as a fundamental practice for protecting a fragile peace. The 2004 Report of the UN Secretary-General on ``The Rule of Law and Transitional Justice in Conflict and Post-Conflict Societies' asserts that ``we must learn to eschew one-size-fits-all formulas and the importation of foreign models, and, instead, base our support on national assessments, national participation and national needs and aspirations'. The Secretary-General goes on to support the ICC's existence as a necessary part of the array of approaches to finding justice and peace.
Memory for change
from the discussion paper prepared by Impunity Watch: The present discussion paper serves as a basis for the Asia Exchange Meeting “Memory for Change”, which is being organised by Impunity Watch (IW) in Bangkok, Thailand from 1 until 7 November 2014. The Exchange Meeting seeks to explore with civil society organisations and victims’ groups from Cambodia, Burma/Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Timor Leste and Thailand how memorialisation can be used as a complementary or alternative transitional justice process (TJ), and/or as a step towards institutionalised processes of TJ such as trials and truth commissions....
The truth about Truth Commissions: Why they do not function optimally in post-conflict societies
from the article by Matiangai V.S. Sirleaf in Cardozo Law Review: Countries that have undergone conflict generally experience extreme violence, social disruption, human suffering, and economic destruction, while authoritarian rule is characterized by the concentration of power in a small group of politicians who maintain control through the exclusion of political challengers and political repression.
Challenging the Conventional: Can Truth Commissions Strengthen Peace Processes?
from the report published by the International Center for Transitional Justice and and the Kofi Annan Foundation: This publication reports on the proceedings of “Challenging the Conventional: Can Truth Commissions Eff ectively Contribute to Peace Processes?,” a symposium jointly organized by the International Center for Transitional Justice and the Kofi Annan Foundation in November 2013. The organizers had grappled with what seemed like a singular paradox. Several truth commissions had been created after armed confl icts, with a growing tendency towards uniformity in their mandates. At the same time, knowledge of the challenges faced by truth commissions has continued to grow, with a strong prescriptive bent, derived from the observation of comparative experences. Despite the expansion of this collective knowledge, however, some recent truth-seeking processes have gone through near-paralyzing crises.
Let the victims speak: A voice from Peru on the Commissions on Truth and Disappearances
from the article by Eduardo González Cueva: On April 24, seven and a half years after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, Parliament voted to establish the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and a Commission of Investigation on Disappeared Persons (CIDP). Given the long wait, some expected victims’ organizations and human rights groups to be ecstatic; but in fact, the opposite is true. They have strongly rejected the bill because—they claim—it will allow the commission to recommend amnesties for perpetrators of gross human rights violations.
Hope for healing
from the article in The approval of the transitional justice bill by the President’s Office is a milestone in Nepal’s peace process. Discussions surrounding the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) so far, however, signal a preoccupation with political, legal and logistical issues at the expense of a key aspect of reconciliation: healing.
Baraza justice: A case study of community led conflict resolution in D.R. Congo
from the article from Peace Direct: Our Congolese partner Fondation Chirezi (FOCHI) has established a network of peace courts, or ‘barazas’, in war-torn eastern DR Congo. In 2014 we evaluated their impact, and found that lessons can be learned from this very cost effective and sustainable model, for other countries that suffer similar levels of violence.
Victim participation in transitional justice mechanisms: Real power or empty ritual?
Rwanda genocide survivors back reconciliation
from the article from Aljazeera: Frederic Kazigwemo was one of thousands of men who helped perpetrate the Rwandan genocide in 1994. Twenty years later, local residents elected him as Mbyo village's spokesperson. Mbyo is a Reconciliation Village, located one hour's drive from the capital of Kigali. It's a microcosm of victims and perpetrators, Hutus and Tutsis, murderers and survivors, are neighbors. It's an attempt to rebuild the country. Twenty years ago, a mass murder destroyed the Rwandan society. The genocide was sparked by the death of the then Rwandan Hutu president Juvenal Habyarimana, whose plane was shot down on April 6 1994. In the hundred days that followed, some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed by the Hutu majority.
Reconciliation: A new generation of aboriginal Canadians weighs in
from the interview by CBCNews: Reneltta Arluk is a writer and actor of Inuvialuit, Gwich’in and Chipewyan-Cree descent originally from the Northwest Territories. Raised by her grandparents on the trap-line until school age, Reneltta travelled with them across the North. In 2008, Reneltta founded Akpik Theatre in Yellowknife to help produce and tell northern indigenous stories.
Inheriting the struggle for truth
From the International Center for Transitional Justice: Disappearances, killings, torture, displacement, and repression. The repercussions of these terrible crimes are felt long after they are committed. Yet, politicians are often reluctant to carry out the difficult work of uncovering the truth about past atrocities, claiming that the society cares only about the future. But in reality, the burden of a past filled with human rights violations weighs heavily on societies, and in particular on youth.
Restorative justice lessons from Libya
from the article by John Braithwaite and Tamim Rashed: One of the things we often say in lectures on restorative justice is that we do not know of any case where angry words in restorative justice conferences escalated to violence with physical injury. This is remarkable because stakeholders are often extremely angry. The explanation, we argue, is that even the worst and most violent among us, have multiple selves. The restorative justice conference is a strategy that coaxes us to put our ‘best self’ forward. We always wince as we make this claim. We wonder if some of our practitioner colleagues really had restorative justice cases that had concluded with violence, but decided not to mention them because it was not a great accomplishment for this to happen. The day might come, we thought, when someone would jump up and say they knew of cases where violence broke out in conferences!
Confronting exclusion: Time for radical reconciliation
from the report by Kim Wale: The 2013 South African Reconciliation Barometer (henceforth SARB or Reconciliation Barometer) Report pays closer attention to the relationship between reconciliation, inequality and exclusion. It posits that reconciliation becomes difficult when social divisions are the result of unequal power relations that are being perpetuated in society. Reconciliation, exclusion and inequality are intimately tied to one another. More often than not an imbalance in power results in the material, symbolic, political and social exclusion of marginalised sectors of society.
Truth and reconciliation conference sheds light on residential schools
from the article on It has been a long time coming, but the healing process for the First Nations people of Canada and the government of the country has begun. On past decades and decades of silence, of being controlled and being abused, First Nations people can finally break their silence of the injustice they have suffered. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada was created to unearth the pain and suffering that the Aboriginal community had gone through from the result of the residential schools that the government started in the 1870s. This past Thursday and Friday, the commission came to the Hobbema community to hear the stories of those who endured the torture of these residential schools.
Mediating criminal violence: Lessons from the gang truce in El Salvador
from the research report by Teresa Whitfield: During the 1980s El Salvador suffered a bitterly contested civil war. Negotiations mediated by the United Nations concluded in a peace agreement in 1992 and set the course for the, largely smooth, assimilation of former guerrillas in the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) into Salvadoran political life. Post-war, violence perpetrated by illegal armed groups escalated as a result of the involvement of gangs and a range of other criminal actors, in parallel to similar crises of security in Guatemala and Honduras. Honduras and El Salvador were subsequently placed first and second in the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime’s global index of homicide with 92 and 69 homicides per 100,000 respectively in 2011. In a shift from previous policies which had emphasized the robust suppression of violent crime, in March 2012 facilitators answerable to the Salvadoran government mediated a controversial truce between the country’s two main gangs. The truce brought about a dramatic reduction in the country’s homicide rate whilst raising multiple questions about the risks and benefits of direct engagement with criminal actors.
African women mobilize to build peace
from the article by Yvette Moore on United Methodist Women: ….Women from Mozambique described ways they are working to create a culture of peace in their country after years of war. “Since the signing of the peace agreement in 1992, we can live in peace,” Rute Uthui of United Methodist Women of Mozambique said through an interpreter. “In the church since last year we always talk about peace and the maintaining of peace on the radio and in the news. Our women’s group meets every Thursday, and we never walk out without talking about peace and what we can do to maintain it. We are facing now criminality. When those people are caught, some want to beat them, but we say, talk to them—punish them according to what they’ve done—but not the violence, talk to them about peace.”
Restorative justice: The long struggle
from the article by Donald Shriver in Tikkun: ….Large, organized, collective interests are at odds with the future of restorative justice: unions of prison guards, economic benefits to communities from prisons, and then—perhaps the most difficult injustice of all—historical crimes whose legacies subject whole groups of people to continuing injustice. Like the Maori, indigenous peoples in the United States and Canada are waiting for healings that exceed any form of individual therapy for crime’s victims and offenders: the land stolen by European colonists from the indigenous, the treaties broken, the genocide, intended or not, that devastated them. Perhaps, speculates Elster, the restorative experience of individuals in procedures like family group conferences and victim compensations will prepare people to see their duties to work as citizens for restorative remedies for these huge historical injustices.
Restorative approaches in local conflicts of Northern Ireland
rom the report by Tim Chapman, Derick Wilson and Hugh Campbell for ALTERNATIVE: ….While many people in Northern Ireland encounter each other through their employment, through shopping and through their social life, most people live in neighbourhoods that are predominantly made up of Protestants or Catholics. The many community relations projects throughout the country offer opportunities for people of different identities to meet and share their experiences. These are voluntary programmes and may not attract those most antagonistic towards the „other‟ and most engaged in violence. Those who are arrested for violence or hate crime will be dealt with by the criminal justice system and are unlikely to engage with their victims unless they are under the age of 18 or are referred to a community based restorative project.
The gods are angry
from the article by George Ayittey in the Wall Street Journal: ....There are more than 2,000 African ethnic groups but despite the incredible diversity there are striking commonalities among them. Whereas Western jurisprudence emphasizes punishing the guilty, the widespread African tradition stresses restitution and reconciliation or "restorative justice"—the basis of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commissions established after the dismantling of Apartheid. Africa's economic heritage featured free village markets. There were rudimentary free markets in Timbuktu, Kano, Salaga, Onitsa, Mombasa and elsewhere before the advent of the colonial era. Whereas the West practiced majoritarian, or representative, democracy, ancient Africans practiced participatory democracy, where decisions were taken by consensus at village meetings variously called asetena kese by the Ashanti, ama-ala by the Igbo, guurti by the Somali, dare by the Shona, ndaba by the Zulu or kgotla by the Tswana.

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